- Pope ushers in Christmas, decries commercialization of the season (vancouversun.com)
The first album I owned by Jefferson Airplane was Crown of Creation, their fourth album. I was a late bloomer to the album rock sound of JA. I was familiar with their hits “White Rabbit” and “Somebody To Love” from extensive AM and FM radio airplay in 1967. It took me longer to establish an immediacy with their album content.
I’ll never quite understand why I didn’t own Surrealistic Pillow first as it was their most accessible and known album.
I fully embraced Crown of Creation when it was released in September of 1968. I loved many of the songs on this album. I was working part-time in a grocery store in those days, so I had a little more “pocket-money” to spend on vinyl LPs. I remember picking it off the rack on the wall at the record store in downtown Norwalk that I haunted frequently. The cover with its fiery mushroom cloud called to me.
My favorite track on Crown of Creation is “Lather“. It was written about Spencer Dryden (drummer), Grace Slick‘s lover then turning 30. I love when the word, “Child” is whispered at the beginning of the song…
According to the Wikipedia article on Lather (The Song):
“But Lather still finds it a nice thing to do,
To lie about nude in the sand,
Drawing pictures of mountains that look like bumps,
And thrashing the air with his hands.”
This blog post is about The Capitol Theater resurgence in Portchester, New York.
The San Francisco Scene on the East Coast
When I look back on the concerts I attended at The Capitol Theater I was thankful to see the psychedelic sounds of San Francisco were well represented.
Our first concert at The Capitol featured Santana and John Lee Hooker at the late show on Friday June 12, 1970. We bought the tickets late and got seated in the balcony. You had a great seat no matter where you sat as the vantage points were all conducive for the stage. John Lee Hooker opened for Santana. I am embarrassed to say that I wasn’t a patient concert goer like I am today. We were rude to the great bluesmen and kept shouting for Santana. I regret my actions that night and wish I treasured John Lee Hooker’s set more than I did. It turns out that was the only time I got to see him play.
When he came back out for an encore we groaned but let me tell you this, he schooled us that night. He did a rendition of “One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer” that included the boogie blues beat that enthralled me. He turned me around with that number and I was cheering for him when he left the stage. Little did I realize how much Carlos Santana respected John Lee Hooker until years later when they recorded The Healer together.
Santana ripped the roof off The Capitol that evening. I recall they were bathed in a warm red light most of the night. I owned the first album Santana and played it all the time on my hi-fi system. Their percussive sound formed a rhythmic beat that kept us dancing out of our seats.
I didn’t see Santana in concert again until 2002, 32 years later. I have seen them live 15 times since the first show in Portchester. They are my favorite band and I have every one of the Santana recordings in my music library. 42 years of music and still going strong, Viva Santana.
The next concert by a band from San Francisco was our first concert by The Grateful Dead on November 7, 1970. I was sitting in the balcony the night of the Santana show when the sound system started playing Workingman’s Dead. The announcer stated that The Grateful Dead would be playing a bunch of dates at The Capitol in November. I ran right downstairs to the lobby box office and purchased our tickets for the third row.
Seeing The Grateful Dead and the New Riders of the Purple Sage that close was a pretty awesome deal. NRPS featured Jerry Garcia on pedal steel guitar. Jerry played right in front of us and he was spectacular on pedal steel guitar. He loved playing that instrument. He smiled throughout the entire NRPS set. I was especially taken with the vocals by John “Marmaduke” Dawson on “Last Lonely Eagle”.
The Grateful Dead played from 9:00 pm until 4 am the next morning, which was an incredible feat. I loved the energy the band gave off and how cosmic it all felt. You could tell they loved playing The Capitol. I loved the people twirling in the lobby and how happy everyone was to be there. I am glad this show was taped and I can play it often to relive the experience.
The following week Jefferson Airplane pulled into town. We attended the late show on November 13, 1970 which featured Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna and E Pluribus Unum. I was excited to catch Jefferson Airplane with Grace Slick on vocals, along with Marty Balin. They were a powerful combination with Jorma and Jack playing behind them. The JA set was a classic music choice of their catalogue. Hot Tuna was a surprise that night and they also featured Papa John Creach on fiddle.
We would see Hot Tuna again January 20, 1971 on a cold winters night. They headlined for a bill that featured Big Brother and the Holding Company and John Hammond. The funniest part of that show was that there were so few people in The Capitol due to the snow storm that we were invited to stay for the second show, which we did. The guy behind us tried to get an encore from Hot Tuna but Jack Cassady just told him come to the second show, its free 😉
The concert venue that started me on my journey to attend live music events for 42 years is the Capitol Theatre in Portchester, NY. It was a haven of great music in the early 1970s. I attended 12 concerts there from 1970 through 1974. I am elated to learn The Capitol Theatre will resume its preeminent role as a concert venue in our market in 2012.
The New York Times music section featured an informative article yesterday about The Capitol Theatre titled, “Live Music to Return to a Storied Theater” by C.J. Hughes. (See Related Articles link below).
The gist of the article is that Peter Shapiro who owns the Brooklyn Bowl plans to produce 100 performances a year there. The Capitol will undergo a two million dollar, four-month renovation project. This could translate into a late spring/early summer grand re-opening. Peter Shapiro is also the publisher of Relix magazine, which provides excellent coverage of the jam band scene.
I’ve never been to the Brooklyn Bowl but my son has and he really likes the venue. I am a long time reader of Relix. The magazine does a fine job of covering the alternative and rock music scene. Peter Shapiro is very well-connected in the music industry and this bodes well for us concert goers. The addition of The Capitol to the New York/Connecticut market sharpens the competition for the concert dollar. I think this may cause a couple of existing promoters to be more price competitive now.
The proximity of The Capitol Theatre in Portchester, NY was beneficial for Fairfield County Connecticut residents. The lower drinking age of 18 just across the state line made it attractive to see shows there. Portchester was more adjacent than The Fillmore East in the East Village of New York City. I find it amazing that Howard Stein was able to book so many premium top rock acts at The Capitol in lieu of New York City and Bill Graham’s organization. It’s going to get interesting with Connecticut having so many venues in 2011, such as the casinos, The Ridgefield Playhouse, The Klein and The Fairfield Theatre and Infinity Hall. My concert dance card will be full later on in the 2012 season. 🙂
The NY Times Capitol Theatre article motivated me to finally write this music blog post. In order to do the topic justice, I will break the blog post in two parts. As a faithful progressive music listener, I would heard The Capitol Theater radio advertisements on WNEW-FM 102.7. My second concert at The Capitol was Traffic, Silver Metre and Swallow on June 27, 1970. We attended the 8 p.m. early show. I was fortunate to be able to buy tickets in those days at a local head shop in Norwalk, Ct. The shop owner always offered us seventh-row center seating.
The English Rock Groups at The Capitol Theatre
Traffic and Jethro Tull were my favorite two bands in 1970. I recall that Steve Winwood wore a long sleeve white t-shirt that was covered in silver stars. It was a shirt I would later buy at the same head shop that sold me tickets and wear it the next time we saw Traffic, much to Steve Winwood’s chagrin. (He kept looking over at me puzzled where I got the shirt I was guessing…) Traffic consisted of Steve Winwood on Hammond B3 organ, guitar and vocals, Chris Wood on saxophone and flute and Jim Capaldi drums and vocals.
Notice on the bootleg cover that Steve Winwood is wearing the shirt I mentioned in the picture from that night. The two songs I remember the most from Traffic’s set were “40,000 Headmen” with Chris Wood playing the flute and “Pearly Queen”, which featured Steve Winwood performing a riveting guitar solo.
Our third concert was Jethro Tull, McKendree Spring and Livingston Taylor which again was an early show. Jethro Tull featured their third album Benefit that night. It was my second time seeing Jethro Tull (the first time was at The Fillmore East in July of 1969). It was our first Livingston Taylor concert. Little did we realize we would see Liv nine more times in later years. We bought his first record on Capricorn Records the following day as we fell in love with his music and charming wit.
I am going to go out of chronological order here to collect the acts we saw at The Capitol Theatre under the proper headings. We saw Traffic again on Halloween night, 10/31/70. By then Traffic was increasing strongly in popularity due to FM airplay and the chart success of John Barleycorn Must Die. We noticed that the audience was more enthusiastic the second time we saw Traffic. It felt like a band I had treasured for my listening pleasure was beginning to move out of my reach. But isn’t that the way it’s supposed to work in music industry circles.
We experienced this again six months later with Jethro Tull on 4/27/71 at the late show. Aqualung was receiving lots of accolades from the music critics and was getting heavy airplay on FM stations like WNEW-FM and WPLJ-FM out of New York City. My request to interview Ian Anderson and the band for our local college radio station was turned down the day of the concert by their publicist. She felt we were too small a radio station and market for the fast rising Jethro Tull. The audience was ravenous for Tull that night and I could feel the band being swept along by the success of Aqualung. Having been a loyal fan of Jethro Tull for three years I should have been psyched for their greater acceptance instead of feeling like others were tearing them away from our midst.
It proved monumental that The Capitol Theatre served as the launchpad for the fueling rocket success of Traffic and Jethro Tull in America.
Part II of my music blog about The Capitol Theatre early concert years will be posted tomorrow. It will cover the San Francisco era with such bands as Santana, The Grateful Dead, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna and Big Brother and the Holding Company.
I love that Sir Paul McCartney is constantly reinventing himself. His latest ventures take us further into Web 3.0,with a rich multimedia experience accompanied by a vastly redesigned Website. The first hint I had of this new technology direction was an advertisement in the tour program booklet we picked up at the McCartney concert at Yankee Stadium this past summer.
Sir Paul McCartney announced his brand new as yet untitled album yesterday in a press release on his blog 🙂 The first of his new songs that he has recorded only using his voice as an instrument is entitled, “My Valentine.” It is available as a preview for McCartney Collection Premium Account Members ($50). It is a striking recording that will reach your heart in a new musical fashion.
The premium account membership includes access to premium content, a lithograph, a plectrum, 4 button badges, membership card and letter, a t-shirt and high quality MP3 320kbs recordings of Good Evening New York City and Live at Hyde Park.
There is a lot to explore at McCartney.com. Go reacquaint yourself with your Beatle fan self. You know you want to 😉
Have a wonderful Christmas time. Gotta love that Abe on the drums with the bells and his Christmas cap 🙂
Looking back to the year 1969 there was a lot of great music happening. Grand Funk Railroad began their career on vinyl that year with the recording, On Time released the same month as Woodstock. It didn’t get a lot of first attention on the radio, I know I never heard it. The first single they released was, “Time Machine” in July of 1969. It barely broke through the Billboard Top 50 singles chart. But a bigger future was brewing for Grand Funk Railroad.
Grand Funk Railroad started to percolate with their second album, Grand Funk, released at the end of 1969. They were perfectly situated to ride the tsunami wave of the Age of Aquarius 1970 which was a paramount year for music. The red album caught on like wildfire. Everybody I knew was raving about Grand Funk. I wasn’t sold on Grand Funk at all. I thought they were crap to be quite honest with you. I would get into some heated debates with my friends about their sound.
It turned out I was wrong about Grand Funk Railroad (although many music critics agreed with me…). They continued to accelerate on the charts, the radio and with fans. Their third album, Closer to Home broke the band into super group level (it is double platinum). “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home)” proved to be a major classic hit on progressive FM radio where they would play the entire 10 minute track (it was a 5:31 length single).
The three members Don Brewer, Mel Schacher, and Mark Farner featured prominently on the cover of Closer to Home. I bought this album in 1970 as my opinion began to change about Grand Funk Railroad. I regret not ever seeing them live as an original power trio. They hold the record in 1971 of breaking The Beatles’ Shea Stadium attendance record by selling out in just 72 hours.
I did get to see Grand Funk Railroad later in my life. I first caught Mark Farner in 2001 at the Milford Oyster Festival for free. That was a cool outside show on Fowler Field.
Then we saw Grand Funk Railroad with Don and Mel at Mohegan Sun‘s Wolf Den. Don took his drum stick and threw it in the air and it landed right at my feet. I have it in my memorabilia collection now. It’s the only drum stick I have ever gotten at a live concert (close to 500 concerts in 42+ years).
I have seen Don Brewer playing drums for Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band twice as well.